May Mental Health Month

10 Ways to Create a Mentally Healthier Workplace

Are you walking the walk to a mentally healthier workplace or are you and your organization just talking and having meetings about how to manage mental health in the workplace?

As May Mental Health Awareness Month comes to an end this week, the work continues to take action, create awareness, education and support surrounding mental health and creating a sigma free workplace. As I shared recently in ‘What employers need to know and do” (See below) in support of Mental Health Awareness, there are many strategies and resources available to help employers take action.

In addition to revamping your EAP program and providing support and training to help those affected by mental health, there are things that can be done to create a mentally healthier workplace so that all employees can feel valued, supported and ultimately thrive.

Check out these 10 Tips and use as an internal checklist/audit to see where your organization could take action and walk the walk to a mentally healthier workplace:

10 Ways Organizations Can Create a Mentally Healthier Workplace

A healthy workplace is one where individuals feel valued and supported, provides a positive workspace, and shows respect for other aspects of a person’s life. If you’re uncertain as to whether your workplace is on the path to wellness, the signs below may provide some helpful tips:

  1. Productive Atmosphere. Clean, functional and well-lit space. Good working relationship with all staff. Employees feel respected, appreciated, incentivized, and rewarded. Signs of intimidation, bullying, sexual harassment, and fear are absent.
  2. Livable wage. Providing a livable wage encourages a committed and sustained workforce.
  3. Reasonable accommodation. Employers and employees have to work collaboratively to identify reasonable accommodations (not special treatment) in the workplace for physical as well as mental disabilities. From changing physical work space and schedule to the use of interpreters or technologically adapted equipment, it can run the gamut.
  4. Health, Wellness, & Environment. Provide a comprehensive health insurance plan including smoking-cessation, weight-loss, and substance abuse programs.
  5. Open Communication. Keep the communication process transparent. Creating an environment of open communication contributes to a more energetic and productive workforce where all employees can feel invested in the company.
  6. Employee Accountability. It takes two to make a healthy workplace. Employees have to come with a “can-do” attitude and be willing to support each other as well as management.
  7. Management Accountability. Allow employees to provide work-related feedback to their supervisors. It can be anonymous to avoid the possibility of negative repercussions.
  8. Work/Life Balance. We now live in a world where technology is available to keep us connected to work around the clock. Work options such as flexible scheduling, hoteling (reservation-based unassigned seating) or telecommuting ought to be implemented if applicable.
  9. Clear & Positive Values. Be transparent and definitive about what the organization stands for. People in as well as outside of the company should have a good understanding of this.
  10. Fitness. Offer a gym membership, fitness class or even just an exercise space that encourages employees to become physically active and stay fit. If possible, incentivize employees to access such services

Source: 10 Ways Tips by mentalhealthamerica.net article August 2013

May Mental Health Month

Mental Health Month – What Employers Need to Know & Do

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. With research that shows most U.S. workers are stressed and many suffer from depression and other mental health related conditions, it’s important to know the facts, access the resources and de-stigmatize mental health in the workplace. As part of creating a true culture of overall well-being, mental well-being must be a part of your initiatives.

Check out this FREE Mental Health Month Toolkit from Mental Health America! It’s packed with valuable resources, fact sheets, worksheets and social media campaigns to incorporate at your workplace.

If you’re in HR or responsible for your organization’s employment, legal and compliance matters, an article from the EEOC on what you need to know about mental health in the workplace:

Mental Health Awareness

“Until recently, mental and behavioral health has been a societal stigma, especially in the workplace. However, it is becoming increasingly hard to overlook when charges of discrimination based on mental health conditions are on the rise.

According to preliminary data from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the commission resolved almost 5,000 charges of discrimination based on mental health conditions and obtained approximately $20 million for individuals with mental health conditions who were unlawfully denied employment and reasonable accommodations in the 2016 fiscal year.

The conversation gained notoriety in December of 2016 when the EEOC published two resource documents. The first— “Depression, PTSD, & Other Mental Health Conditions in the Workplace: Your Legal Rights,” summarized the rights of individuals with mental health conditions under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The second—The Mental Health Provider’s Role in a Client’s Request for Reasonable Accommodation at Work—as the title suggests, explains the reasonable accommodation law to the employees’ mental health providers.

Under the ADA and other nondiscrimination laws, employers must provide “reasonable accommodations” to qualified employees with disabilities. Many employers are aware of the varying types of accommodations for people with physical and communication disabilities; but many are less familiar with accommodations for employees with disabilities that are not visible, such as mental or behavioral disabilities.

Understanding the EEOC’s position on this topic is now crucial because it can help manage applicants and employees living with mental health problems, as well as respond to administrative claims alleging violations of mental health rights.

What is considered a mental health condition, and who gets reasonable accommodation?

Mental health conditions that may qualify for a reasonable accommodation, according to the EEOC, are essentially conditions that substantially limit one or more major life activities—these include brain/neurological functions and activities like communicating, concentrating, eating, sleeping, regulating thoughts or emotions, caring for oneself, and interacting with others.

The EEOC notes that such conditions do not have to “result in a high degree of functional limitation to be ‘substantially limiting’.”  The following are examples that qualify as disabling according to federal regulations:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Schizophrenia

The EEOC notes that this list is not exhaustive and that an employee may qualify for a reasonable accommodation if he or she has a substantially limiting impairment in the past. In addition, the ADA does not protect individuals currently engaging in illegal drug use, nor does it require employers to tolerate use of alcohol or illegal drugs on the job. However, an employee with alcoholism or who was addicted to drugs in the past may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation.

Reasonable accommodation solutions for mental health conditions

Reasonable accommodation, as defined by the “Depression, PTSD, & Other Mental Health Conditions in the Workplace: Your Legal Rights,” guidance, is “any change in the work environment, or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.”

Mental health claims do not excuse any failure to meet production standards or rules of conduct that are applied consistently and are necessary for the operation of the business—even if the employee’s difficulty was caused by a mental health condition, or the side effects of medication.

It is important to note that the employer ultimately decides which accommodation will be used. Sites such as the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) exist as a resource for ideas on how to potentially accommodate a worker with a mental health condition; however as the site itself states, it is only a “starting point in the accommodation process and may not address every situation. Accommodations should be made on a case by case basis, considering each employee’s individual limitations and accommodation needs.”

Employers and consultants that want to understand how to build a corporate culture that destigmatizes mental illness in the workplace can attend the Healthcare Revolution event, Oct. 28-30, 2018.  The Mental Health and Behavioral Health Summit will take place during the conference bringing to nations top insurers and employers together to explore prevention and early identification and intervention as well as some of the most innovative ways employers are addressing this today.

While employers are encouraged to still seek consultants, it is also important to give employees a voice in the decision. When a healthy work environment is created, workers and employers can explore some of the following questions: What limitations is the employee with a mental health impairment experiencing? How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance? What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations? Do supervisory personnel and employees need training regarding mental health impairments?

Common concerns and frequent accommodations for workers with mental health conditions are:

Concentration or distraction issues: Those who have difficulty concentrating –for example employees who suffer from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) –may require employers to reduce distractions in the work area by making it quieter; provide more frequent reminders of task/ memory aids; working from home (if this doesn’t cause undue hardship to the employer); and in some cases, restructure their position to include only essential functions.

Managing treatment and medication: When it comes on to employees on medication, employers may provide a flexible schedule to allow workers to attend their appointments or stabilize their medical plan. In some cases, providing more frequent breaks for medication and allowing the worker to use a water bottle during worktimes may also be necessary.

Anxiety: Workers suffering from anxiety may require the presence of a support animal, or flexible work environment (one that allows them to attend meetings remotely, or occasionally work from home). Employers can also exchange non-essential job tasks with another employee or change the management style of the employee’s supervisor.

As more efforts are placed into promoting mental health, it is crucial for employers to build a corporate culture that destigmatizes mental illness in the workplace. Not only is it the law, but a 2016 World Health Organization (WHO) study shows that every USD $1 put into scaled up treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of USD $4 in improved health and productivity.”

Bottom line – Mental health is essential to everyone’s health and well-being, and mental illnesses are both common and treatable. The key is identifying and providing supportive intervention and treatment programs and resources to ensure all employees can thrive at work.

 

 

skin-cancer-month

What You & Your Employees Need To Know About Skin Cancer

skin-cancer-month

Did you know most skin cancer is found by people who go see a doctor/dermatologist as a result of a suspicious mole or sun spot and not by routine exams?

Skin cancer is on the rise and it is preventable. Early detection is the key, so be proactive and become a Skin Cancer Prevention Hero by conducting a self-examination and encourage your family, friends and co-workers to do the same.

For a quick skin health education activity, share this quiz as part of your Employee Well-being initiatives in support of May Skin Cancer Awareness Month and in support of keeping your employees skin healthy:

Take The Spot Skin Cancer Quiz

To make it free and easy, check out these nearby locations where you and your employees can get a FREE Skin Cancer Screening for a no-excuses skin checkup. Find a free skin cancer screening near you and get it done!

And for those who just want the facts, educate yourself, your family and your workforce to be skin smart and raise awareness on skin smarts and skin cancer prevention: (Source: www.ADA.org)

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma:

  • These are the most common forms of skin cancer, and are collectively referred to as non-melanoma skin cancers.
  • These arise within the top layer of the skin and can appear on any sun-exposed area of the body, but are most frequently found on the face, ears, bald scalp, and neck.
  • Basal cell carcinoma frequently appears as a pearly bump, whereas squamous cell carcinoma often looks like a rough, red, scaly area, or an ulcerated bump that bleeds.
  • Although non-melanoma skin cancer spreads slowly, if left untreated, it can lead to disfigurement.
  • Researchers estimate that 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, were diagnosed in 3.3 million people in the United States in 2012.
  • See a board-certified dermatologist if you spot anything changing, itching, or bleeding on your skin. When caught early and treated properly, skin cancer is highly curable.

Melanoma:

  • This is the most deadly form of skin cancer.
  • One American dies from melanoma every hour.
  • Melanoma may suddenly appear without warning, but can also develop from or near an existing mole.
  • It can occur anywhere on the body, but is most common on the upper back, torso, lower legs, head, and neck.
  • Melanoma frequently spreads to lymph nodes and most internal organs, making early detection and treatment essential.
  • See a board-certified dermatologist if you spot anything changing, itching, or bleeding on your skin.
  • New, rapidly growing moles, or moles that itch, bleed, or change color are often early warning signs of melanoma and should be examined by a dermatologist.
  • If detected early and treated properly, melanoma is highly treatable.

To help you spot skin cancer early, when it’s most treatable, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone learn the ABCDEs of melanoma:

  • A is for Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other half.
  • B is for Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • C is for Color that varies from one area to another.
  • D is for Diameter: While melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
  • E is for Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape, or color.

For more information about skin cancer prevention and detection, or to find a free skin cancer screening in your area, visit SPOTme.org.

To learn more on how to enhance your Employee Wellness Programs and raise awareness and education on skin cancer and other health education prevention, contact:  wellness@cairnstone.com